Saturday, December 31, 2016

First Hour in the Prayer Room

Tonight was a very special night for me.

Not only did I get to be with these dear family members for New Year's Eve, but they shared in the launch of the JV Prayer Room, a project I've been working on with teammates all year long.

By close to midnight, we were all on our computers and phones, eager to get into the Prayer Room to pray.

Even the youngest, my ten year old nephew, Luke, stayed up to take part in this very momentous occasion.

After thousands of hours of work on it, I was feeling both excited and nervous about this launch.

Although our team has done everything we could to ensure a smooth launch, you just don't know how it's going to go until it goes! I was SO glad family was alongside me as we waited for midnight, the moment we could enter the Prayer Room officially for the first time.

Our plan was for everyone to be on their own devices and experience it individually.

But as technical difficulties would have it, my computer was the only one that had the connection to go in. So we quick put it up on the TV and went into the Prayer Room together.

What a better idea!

We took turns, with whoever wanted to, reading and praying out loud through the various sections throughout the hour.

For me, there could not have been a better way to ring in the new year.

Surrounded by people I love, praying for people I love.

With all my heart, I'm standing in faith for this Prayer Room to be filled 8760 hours this year.

With all my heart, I believe God is going to do MUCH more than we can ask or imagine through the prayers of his people for the ministry of Josiah Venture.

And how very meaningful to start those prayers with these precious people!


Ringing Out The Old on Hvar

Last night some visitors arrived here on Hvar. Can you see who came to visit??

Our Patty family from Slovenia!

They drove down from Ljubljana to spend New Year's Eve and Day with us here in Croatia!

We headed down to this familiar beach this afternoon for a very particular purpose.

Like us, the Josh Patty family has camped in this beautiful place numerous times, so they know and love the beach well like we do!

But as I said, we were down here for a particular reason.

These four people had a goal in mind on this last day of the year.

Together, they took a swim in the ocean as the sun set on 2016!

After Claire and Dave swam the other day, they could hardly wait to go back and do it again.

My college age niece, Becca, and 10 year old nephew, Luke, were happy to join them in their last day of the year swim!

I am positively amazed at how long they stayed in the water. They said that after the initial shock of cold, their bodies adjusted and that it actually felt really good. Another year I'm going to have to try this out for myself!

But for this time, it was fun to be the ones on the beach documenting this amazing feat, and enjoying time with the other members of the family.

But seriously, these four definitely get the "Brave" award for their plunge in the sea!

How fun to share this last day of the year with our family!

As the sun set, we headed back to the house for our last few hours of 2016, excited to ring in 2017 with an hour in the JV Prayer Room at midnight, the first ever hour of its opening!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Back to the Fortress

There are days when it's fun to find new treasures of beauty on Hvar. And then there are days when it's comforting to go back to the familiar places you love.

Like the overlook from the fortress in Hvar Town at sunset.

We raced there hoping to catch a good sunset, and we did! Every one is so different, and that's the fun of sunsets.

Well, and seeing them with people you love! 😊

After admiring God's one-of-a-kind handiwork, Dave took off for the hardware store and Claire and I wandered down into town, passing through the walls of the fortress.

It was first built in the 16th century, with reconstruction happening in the 17th century after lightning struck and ignited gunpowder stored in the fortress. Yikes! It's amazing it still exists after that happened!

We kept wandering down towards town, enjoying all the little sights, sounds and smells of town.

These small cobblestoned streets are sure quiet these days.

With only one hotel and one restaurant open in Hvar town, there's definitely more of a local feeling this time of year.

And we like that! We can take photos and wander around to our heart's content, almost without ever seeing anyone!

We met up with Dave later on and went to our favorite (and the only one open!) restaurant for dinner. Dave said it was my reward for having worked so many hours this past week on the Prayer Room. But he's worked hard too on various projects, as has Claire. So really it was a reward for all of us!

I wished I'd taken a picture in the restaurant...of our friend the waiter bustling around, of the American couple visiting from Boston who sat with us because there was no other space, of the local men talking and laughing loudly. It was a such a cozy time all being packed inside because it was too cold for anyone to be outside!

Walking back to the car, I took one last glance into the main square before telling it goodbye until next time.

Then  hurried to catch up to these two!

What a special time this has been, spending days together working, reading, cooking, laughing, exploring, hiking, reflecting and enjoying each other.

I'm so thankful for this time with Dave and Claire!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Join the Watch!

This is one aspect of me being here on Hvar right now.

Thanks for the photo today Claire!

But this is the more honest, and greater and better, reality of me being here.

I have spent hours and hours and hours working while here to prepare our JV Prayer Room for its release this Saturday night, New Year's Eve. It's been a year in the making, but as with all significant projects, it's down the wire with all the last minute edits, changes and revisions.

PLEASE! If you haven't already gone over to see the Prayer Room website, DO SO HERE!

Read about it, sign up for an hour or more to pray, and stand with us for a greater movement of God than we've yet to see in Central and Eastern Europe.

We want to see 8760 hours of prayer for JV this year, 365 days, 24/7. Only God can make this happen. But he can sure motivate his people to do his work!

This is so on my heart right now...believing God for an army of prayer warriors to stand with us in reaching young people with the Gospel.

Will you join us?!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

All Work and No Play...

I'll be super honest.

I'm writing this blog post at 2:30 in the morning. Why? Because while it looks like we're just hanging around finding cool things to see and do here on Hvar, in reality I'm spending most of my days working on the finishing touches of the Josiah Venture Prayer Room.

I just finished an 8 hour stretch tonight. Getting to blog was my "reward" for work!

If you haven't read or heard about JV's virtual Prayer Room, GO HERE!!! I'd much rather you read about that than anything else. And even more so, that you sign up to PRAY!!

But you know the saying ... "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" (who said that anyway??!!) so here is today's "play" to keep me from getting dull.

There's a road nearby that is, what some might say, off the beaten track. Let's just say you probably shouldn't go on this road unless you've got good tires and even better clearance underneath. Oh, and maybe nerves of steel. It's a bit "rough".

But oh so worth it!

That's Scedro Island out there past Dave and Claire, a mostly uninhabited island that we've boated to numerous times.

With a bura blowing (that's the infamous north wind around here), you can see much farther than usual so the view was even more spectacular.

But that's not what we came up here to see.

Dave knew about a little chapel up the beaten path, so that's where we were headed. Can you see it way up there??

The view got even better as we began to climb with the car.

You could see Zavala down below, another town on the south side of Hvar.

Is that spectacular or what??!!

But in order to reach the little chapel, we had to go further on up, which meant being right on the edge of the mountain.

I knew it was safe, but I'll admit, it WAS a little freaky driving along there!

The farther up we went, the better the views kept getting. We'd just been on that road that you see twisting and turning down there!

Finally we could go no further by car, so got out to walk to the chapel.

By this time the bura was blowing so hard and cold! It's crazy how fast the weather changed from just a few days ago when we were in warm sunshine.

But the reward of the bura?


And this!!

We snapped pictures as quickly as we could, all the while feeling like our fingers were going to fall off because they were so frozen. That kind of cold is hard to describe!

Believe me, we were saying to Dave, "HURRY UP AND TAKE THE PICTURE" when he took this one!

I quickly ran over to the chapel to see what was inside. Couldn't believe it! I don't know who has the key, but someone has put a lot of things in there over time.

We climbed up a little further just to get one last good view.

And Dave said he thinks he could see Italy through the binoculars! That's never happened before.

One last photo of the three of us, to document that we really were up there, and then we scurried back to the car.

But I'll tell you, we couldn't stop exclaiming all the way home about the magnificence of God's creation from up there! I'd like to see it on a warm day sometime, but maybe the view was even better because of the wind and cold!

Alright. I've had my reward. I got to blog about our little outing!

I'm off to bed now. Will have another day of work tomorrow to finalize everything in the Prayer Room before we go live at midnight on Saturday night, New Year's Eve! Hopefully there will be a little play tomorrow too to help me cross the finish line, and keep me from being dull!

I am LOVING this Prayer Room project, even if it's taking literally thousands of hours to prepare.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

From On High

Knowing there was something not far from us that we'd yet to see here on Hvar, we set off this afternoon to find it.

But when we passed this sign alongside the road, I honestly thought the arrow was telling us there was another little road ahead where we'd make a left hand turn, so we kept driving.

After a few kilometers of not finding that expected other little road (we DID find a cool little village that is worth going back to visit sometime!), we turned around and went back to the sign.

With no other information except for the little the sign pointing the way, and this pretty stone building next to the sign, we parked alongside the road and decided to follow the hiking trail.

The path was absolutely charming! It was like being in a perfect arboretum, albeit a wild one, where a lush variety of eco-system was on display.

Not to mention all the cool stone walls built along the path.

Up, up, up we went, unsure if we were heading in the right direction, but enjoying the view and the gentle hike.

A glance back at Claire brought a spectacular view of her and nearby island, Brač!

Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, this appeared in front of us.

I had NO IDEA these beautiful cairns were up here!

We'd only come in search of the cross that we've seen from below in the town of Stari Grad.

Having only seen the cross from below, I assumed that you could drive up to see it and the view out from it.

I was wrong! The only way up here is to hike. But oh is it ever worth it, especially at sunset!

A panorama view from my phone at least gives you a little sense of the magnificence from up there.

The cross we'd come to see was first erected in the early 1900's, but was damaged in World War 2. In disrepair for many years, it was finally reconstructed in 1990, and in 2003 the stone chapel was rebuilt.

From every direction, there is an incredible view on top of Glavica, the name of the hill overlooking Stari Grad.

Turn the other way and you have an even more spectacular view of Brač, along with those cool cairns!

I read that the new cross is on a base made from the damaged cross. It certainly is beautiful, a beacon of hope to all.

As the sun began its descent, the wind began to blow, and I got another one of my " wild wind-whipped" pictures which now makes three in this past year. It's can be crazy windy here!

See HERE and HERE for more windy shots

With a few more glances around at the fantastic beauty, we took a last photo and then headed back down.

Even while on the downward path it was gorgeous!

What a wonderful new memory to make with these two during our days here.